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Northern Ireland health service cuts: Belfast Health Trust's £23.6m savings proposals

The Belfast Health Trust is the biggest of all Northern Ireland's health trusts. It has to make saving of £23.6m.

'Major or controversial' savings

Staff cuts - £1.75m

No plans for staff redundancy but reduction in use of "flexible" including agency nurses and locum doctors. Staff levels will be maintained at recommended safety levels.

Staffing level reduction would mean 65 beds, the equivalent  of three wards closed.

Those waiting for routine elective care face five/six month increase in wait.

Reduce routine elective care services - £2.95m

High volume surgical speciality areas to be cut. 35 beds cut which is between one and two wards. Cut of around 650 lists or 2,150 day cases. Waiting times to get longer.

Domiciliary care cut - £0.75m

Around 365 patients affected and waiting list increase by five months. Beds will be blocked through delayed discharges which will adversely affect new admissions in Emergency departments which will also be affected. Community scheme places will also be blocked through delayed discharges.

Access to nursing and residential home placements for new patients cut - £2.3m

Around 230 patients affected. Beds blocked through delayed discharges which will impact Emergency Departments.

Fertility treatments deferred for year - £0.75m

Around 320 people affected and waiting list increase by five months.

Drug treatments - £4.5m

Deferral of initiation of high cost drug treatments for between five and six months and expensive drugs substituted for alternatives. Around 200 people affected and waiting lists increased by up to six months.

'Low impact savings'

Productivity savings -  £1m

Estate rationalisation and energy efficiency savings - £2m

Buying goods and services - £2.1m.

Management and Administration savings  - £0.5m

Natural slippage - £7.7m - that is allowing certain services to continue for a period of time to align expenditure.

A statement from the trust said: "Whilst we must fulfil our statutory responsibility to develop a balanced financial position, we have striven to balance any risk to patient or client safety and we have aimed to minimise impact on the majority of people who use or need our services. We have proposed actions that will provide the required level of financial savings within a challenging timeframe; and we have endeavoured to ensure that should any of these proposals be enacted post-public consultation, that they will have limited impact on the strategic direction of the Trust.

"We will make every effort over the next six weeks to engage as widely as possible with those who use our services. We will consult with as many stakeholders and special interest groups as we can and we would encourage as many people as possible to respond to this public consultation."

Full consultation document available here

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